Sen. Karla May’s “May Report” for the Week of Jan. 10, 2022

On the Floor

This week, the Senate met for its first full week of the 2022 legislative session. Bills continue to be introduced and referred to their respective committees, and the pace of session is expected to pick up in the coming weeks as these bills begin to be heard in committee. In the meantime, much of the current discussion happening on the Senate floor has centered on Senate rules and traditions.

This week, my colleagues and I made an important change to our rules involving a parliamentary motion known as the “Previous Question” or PQ. The PQ is a rarely-used legislative tool in the Senate and is seen as a “nuclear option” for ending debate and forcing an immediate vote on the item before the Senate. This week, the Senate took a step in making it harder to use the PQ by raising the requirements needed to bring the motion forward. Hopefully, this will help protect the Senate’s proud tradition of “free and fair discussion,” as well as promote lawmakers working together to find a path forward on important pieces of legislation.

Bills and Committees

Senator May’s Legislation:

Several of the bills I have sponsored this year have been referred to committee, and in the coming weeks, I hope to present them to my fellow senators. These bills include:

  • Senate Bill 684, which allows school districts to offer elective social studies courses on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. This legislation has been referred to the Senate’s Education Committee.
  • Senate Bill 685, which seeks to introduce due process into hearings regarding the suspension of a business, occupational, professional or other license for not complying with a child support order. This bill will be heard in the Senate’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee.
  • Senate Bill 686, which establishes the Missouri Video Lottery Control Act. This legislation allows video lottery terminals to be located in fraternal organizations, veterans’ organizations, truck stops, convenience stores, bars, restaurants, liquor stores and grocery stores. Senate Bill 686 has been referred to the Senate’s Appropriations Committee.
  • Senate Bill 770, which modifies provisions regarding the employment information provided to graduates of institutions of higher education. Senate Bill 770 has been referred to the Senate’s Education Committee.
  • Senate Bill 771, which modifies the definition of “weighted average daily attendance” for the purposes of calculating state aid for school districts. This bill has also been referred to the Senate’s Education Committee.
  • Senate Bill 772, which creates the Community Investment Corporation Development Commission within the Department of Revenue. This commission will be tasked with gathering information and making reports regarding the establishment and operation of community investment corporations. This legislation has been referred to the Senate’s Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee.

Judiciary Committee:

On Jan. 11, the Senate’s Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee met to discuss three legislative proposals. The first two deal with funding for the Kansas City Police Department. Senate Bill 678 requires Kansas City to spend one-fourth of all city revenue on the police department, rather than the current requirement it spend one-fifth of the city’s general revenue. This would represent a major increase in police funding for the state’s largest city. Senate Joint Resolution 38 is an accompanying constitutional amendment, which, if approved by Missouri voters, would enact SB 678. The third proposal heard by the committee was Senate Bill 631, which reduces the time allowed to bring a personal injury claims from five years to two years.

Other News

House Committee Hears Bills Banning the Teaching of CRT, 1619 Project

On Jan. 11, parents, students and educators packed a House hearing to testify on legislation regarding a “parents’ bill of rights.” House Bill 1995 would allow parents to object to their child being taught topics they deem “divisive or controversial.” Since the bill doesn’t define those terms, what is consider “divisive or controversial” is purely subjective. Schools could face civil penalties of up to $5,000 for violations, in addition to being required to pay the parents’ attorney fees. Another measure, House Bill 1474, would prohibit public and charter schools from using curriculum or materials that support or promote critical race theory and the 1619 Project.

Those opposed to the bills packed two House hearing rooms and overflowed into the surrounding hallways. Only a relative few testified in favor of the bills. In addition, more than a thousand people submitted online testimony, primarily in opposition. The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee took no immediate action on either bill, but is expected to vote on them at a later date.

House Committee Advances Congressional Redistricting Bill

On Jan. 12, the House Special Committee on Redistricting approved a plan to redraw Missouri’s eight congressional districts to reflect population shifts under the 2020 U.S. Census. The full Missouri House of Representatives is expected to debate the bill in the coming weeks, with the intent of advancing it to the Senate not long after.

Lawmakers must have new congressional districts in place before candidate filing for the Aug. 2 primary elections opens on Feb. 22. Normally, redistricting would have been completed during the 2021 legislative session, but the pandemic slowed the release of detailed census data needed for the task. Even if lawmakers pass the redistricting bill by the deadline, it would require an emergency clause in order to take effect in time for filing. Without one, pursuant to the state constitution, the bill wouldn’t take effect until Aug. 28, weeks after the primaries. Not only would an emergency clause require the support of two-thirds majorities in both chambers, some in the Legislature believe it is questionable whether the bill meets the narrow constitutional standard to warrant including an emergency clause.

Net State General Revenue Up 4.7% So Far In FY 2022

Net state general revenue collections for the first half of the 2022 fiscal year were up 4.7% compared to the same period in FY 2021, going from $5.44 billion last year to $5.7 billion this year, according to data provided by the Missouri Division of Budget and Planning. Robust sales tax collections helped contributed to a strong December, which saw net general revenue increase 31.9% compared to December 2020, going from $904.3 million last year to $1.19 billion this year. Sales tax revenue increased 35% in December 2021 compared to December 2020. Although corporate income tax revenue was up 9.9% for the month compared to the prior year, individual income tax collections decreased 4.5%.